Australian League of Environmental Organisations

6 05 2014
Shades of Green

Shades of Green

ALEO – the acronym has a nice ring to it. Although I must confess that said organisation doesn’t yet exist, but it bloody well should.

Australia is in dire need of a united front to tackle the massive anti-environment sentiment gripping this country’s band of irresponsible and short-sighted libertarian politicians. Only yesterday I was chatting to a student in the tea room about my ‘State of South Australia’s Environment‘ talk when he asked “So, what can we do about it?”. Isn’t that the 1 per cent1 question?

Apart from the obvious: (1) keep up the pressure on bad government plans (petitions, letters, blogs, reports, e-mails), (2) don’t vote for the Coalition and (3) if you’re a scientist, place some economic or well-being value on environmental processes so that even politicians can understand that maintaining ecosystems makes good economic sense, I almost casually mentioned that we need a united front in Australia against this latest right-wing wave of anti-environmentalism.

I’ve thought about this before, but my latest conversation got me reflecting on the problem a little more – why don’t we have a united league of environmental organisations in Australia?

Let’s face it – the various environmental NGOs, state-centric organisations, lobby groups and even political parties are all over the shop when it comes to environmental policy. Yes, there are temporary coalitions (that’s ‘coalition’ with a lower-case ‘c’ – I now shudder to use that word) based on specific or local environmental issues (e.g., dumping dredge on the Great Barrier Reef), but there is no charter of agreed environmental policy issues to which the many environmental organisations represented in this country can use to lobby state and federal governments as a strong, united front.

As I see it, the problem is that despite the good work that most of these organisations do on behalf of all of us for the protection of our life-support system, there are even more points of contention that must make those with any sort of ‘green’ conscience look like a pack of squabbling camp dogs to the opposition. What’s that line? Never is the competition more fierce when the stakes are so low.

But the stakes are not low – they’re huge, and they will affect all of us, libertarian and communist, green and coal-brown alike.

While I might fundamentally disagree with many of the policies of the Greens because they are entrenched ideologies rather than evidence-based policies (like every other political party), it doesn’t mean that I should fight them tooth and nail, just so that the Coalition runs laughing all the way to the polls. Nor should I get too upset when the Australian Conservation Foundation doggedly refuses to accept the role nuclear power will play in effective climate change mitigation, just because their leader doesn’t like it. Within-organisation squabbling is even worse.

In other words, environmental organisations cannot afford to act like entrenched minor political parties if they want any real chance of taking environmental policy by the horns in this country. We need a charter of agreed principles and policies, with binding commitments not too unlike those of international agreements (e.g., Kyoto Protocol) that each signatory must promote and support. A massive league of like-minded organisations and individuals will make environmental issues mainstream ones, and will avoid the rapid vortex of extinction-driving politics we are now facing.

CJA Bradshaw

1The approximate percentage of our country’s budget allocated to environmental spending.


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6 responses

7 05 2014
David Jay

Hi Corey, I always think that networks / coalitions / alliances like this are worth doing, and I do believe they can be very effective. Of course there are many models you could follow, or at least take inspiration from. In the UK we have an organisation called Wildlife Countryside Link (http://www.wcl.org.uk/) which I think performs a similar role to your idea of the ALEO. I would be careful of trying to hammer out detailed principles from the start though. That can do more to highlight differences than commonalities, and also risks getting bogged down in ‘theory’ when really people want to get out there and win some practical victories. In my experience it can be better to have a very light framework and work issue by issue, where the consensus and objectives are clearer – this can be very effective in bringing together groups that don’t always see eye-to-eye but do have areas of common ground.

6 05 2014
cartoonmick

ALEO, a great idea, but I reckon every obstacle and impediment would be placed in its way by those who have the power to manipulate and control.

Still, it would be a worthy group to belong to.

My cartoon on the topic . . . .

http://cartoonmick.wordpress.com/editorial-political/#jp-carousel-775

6 05 2014
Dingo Simon

Corey, I totally agree with you.
So who will begin this ALEO?
I seemed to be coming to a locked door all the time when it comes to my approach to the Qld Govt about issues regarding mainland and Fraser Island dingo and 1080 Baiting.
They have their agenda to seemingly destroy so many things and despite Campbell Newmans boast of an honest and more transparent Govt the present case seems to be the opposite.

6 05 2014
6 05 2014
Colin Cook

While I can see the appeal of a national organisation that has evidence-based concepts at it’s heart, I don’t see how this could be any more effective than many other organisations. How do we get the political parties/system to even accept evidence-based ideas when they don’t currently do so. It’s not just in environmental areas that this refusal to base policy on informed input rather than ideology is causing grief (education, refugees, prison system, public transport vs road etc etc). A lot of our problems stem from the fact that our current crop of politicians are drawn from a very narrow section of society (the current cabinet is mostly lawyers/bankers). How can we change the way they think/make decisions, when it seems that their atttude is somewhat hard-wired (http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/04/08/3186006.htm). That’s a big ask!

6 05 2014
Luke P

Excellent idea Corey! It would take quite a large push to get started and get participation, but well worth the effort. So where to from now? What can we do?

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